Beware the ides of July.
Before beginning the “Beltway Series” against the Washington Nationals this Memorial Day weekend, the Baltimore Orioles will finish up their disappointing appearance in the new Yankees Stadium (losing game 1 and game 2 of the three game series). Assuming that the O’s allow for the sweep (because they might), their record will be 16-25 and 10 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East division.
After the Nats, the Orioles will finish the month of May against the AL East leading Jays (27-16) and AL Central leading Detroit Tigers (22-16) in a pair of three game series. Let’s speculate that Baltimore is good for at least one win in each of those series while adding another because the Nationals are “less than or equal to” the Birds in futility (see May 19 or 20 vs. Pittsburgh for visual affirmation). Baltimore would sit with a 20-30 record.
June does not get any easier for the Orioles.
They will begin the month on the road facing the three and four in the AL West, Seattle and Oakland (19-22 and 15-22 respectively), before returning home to face the Mariners once more. Then we move to Interleague Play and the real test, the National League East.
The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets will come to Oriole Park before the Birds leave the friendly confines of Camden Yards (11-11 at home vs. 5-13 on the road) for the armpit of America, Philadelphia. After those nine games, Baltimore gets a break (kinda) when they travel to Miami to face the sub-.500 Marlins.
Luckily, the schedule allows the Uh-O’s to challenge the Nationals in another three game stand at home before welcoming the Boston Red Sox (2nd in the AL East at 24-16). The BoSox are one-and-a-half games behind Toronto for the AL East lead and by this time, they could very well be in first (that’s right, Big Papi’s slump is over).
Two series on the road against the West (four games against the 20-19 LA Angels and another three games versus the Mariners) will culminate with a trip back home to face the Blue Jays once more.
At best, I see the Orioles at 33 wins to 54 losses by the All-Star break. The deficit for the O’s (45-48) before the All-Star Game in 2008 was 10 games back. This year, it could be much, much, worse as the rest of the AL East have stepped up their game.
The combined record of the teams facing the Orioles from May 22-July 12 is 295-304. In that same period, the Jays (296-300), BoSox (296-299), Rays (295-306) will all be facing similar competition. New York (302-300) would be the exception as their combined competition carries a winning record.
With another 74 games left on the schedule following the MLB ASG, the Birds have little room to make up for lost time… barring a complete meltdown of the rest of the division. The best we have to look forward to will be a glance at future talents.
Amongst those talents, are catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Nolan Reimold, and RHP Chris Tillman.
People have been calling for Matt Wieters since spring training. Wieters is batting .282 with 4 dingers in 117 at bats for AAA Norfolk. The switch-hitting slugger has power from both sides of the plate. He’s also No. 2 on MLB.com's "Top 50 Prospects" list.
Reimold has belted 9 homers in 109 plate appearances while batting-in 27 runs for the Norfolk Tides. Reimold was called-up last week and got his first taste of the bigs on May 14th. With Luke Scott being added to the 15-day DL, we will get to see a bit more of him this weekend.
Fellow Tides teammate, right-hander Chris Tillman, sits at No. 16 on that same list. With a 5-0 record and a 2.25 ERA, the 6’5” Tillman tosses at speeds in the mid-nineties. With the pitching struggles the Orioles currently face, he may find his time sooner than later.
Another point to consider is the sensational individual stats that the Orioles hitters are putting up. Adam Jones (36), Nick Markakis (35), and Brian Roberts (34) are three of the top five producers in the AL in runs. Jones is also fourth in the league in batting average (.370) while Aubrey Huff is fifth in the league with 34 RBI.
The games before and after this year’s MLB ASG in St. Louis may not be too spectacular for O’s fans. However, chances are we’ll field a few All-Stars in that game. The emerging prospects and big league youngsters we’ll be fielding in the games following will give us plenty to anticipate in the near future.
Try not to lose hope O's fans when the Birds are getting dogged during those dog days of summer.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from MLB.com.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from the Orioles team site.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from the Blue Jays team site.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from the Red Sox team site.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from the Yankees team site.
Retrieved May 21, 2009, from the Rays team site.